* Posts by Nìall Tracey

69 publicly visible posts • joined 18 Dec 2006


TV-Links man: 'I'm no master criminal'

Nìall Tracey

To all who say...

..."what about Yahoo!? What about Google?"

Well, maybe that's the point. If they can squeeze this case through existing legislation, or use it as a lever in lobbying for a change in the law, what about Google?

If this guy goes down, Google will have to rethink, replan and find a way to keep warez off the results page....

Asus launches tiny PC

Nìall Tracey

Not a PC? What does PC stand for?

At work, other people used to use my desktop.

At home, other people used to use my desktop.

When neither at home or at work, I used someone else's desktop. (eg the Cybercafé's)

When I got a work laptop, only I used it.

When I got a home laptop, only I used it.

The laptop is now the only truly "Personal" Computer.

Mobiles give you brain cancer?

Nìall Tracey

Scientific integrity.

"There's one final area worth focusing on: The effects of wireless transmissions on naked flesh vary according to spectrum."

So why use TV and other microwave transmissions as evidence that these emissions are harmless? They're on different wavelengths!

If you're going to knock others for being unscientific, you must be scrupulously scientific yourself. Leave holes and they'll only be picked at!

This emergency alert has been cancelled by Hotmail

Nìall Tracey

Microsoft glossary.

" The statement didn't explain how Willis's outfit could reasonably be categorized as "unknown or known to be bad." "

Sender is unknown =

Sender has not bought a subscription to a Microsoft whitelist or other service.

Sender is known to be bad =

Communists are bad. Open source is for commies. Mail headers identify sending mail client/server as open source. Sender is commie. Sender is bad.

Kung fu monks battle gobby net ninja

Nìall Tracey

Steven Seagal, hard?!?

Stiff yes -- rigid even -- but not hard.

Blogging: made in England?

Nìall Tracey


The WayBackMachine at archive.org alledgedly starts at 1996.

Siphoning MySpace tunes using Safari

Nìall Tracey


"If they 'closed the door', you wouldn't be able to hear any music."

MySpace music promises uploaders control over access to their music, and I think it's fair to assume that most people assume that they're using some sort of streaming tech to do so.

Real Media and Microsoft's streaming formats are now almost universally available and although trivial to hack, they do at least attempt to block recordings.

MySpace are putting MP3s up for download without making this clear to users, many of whom explicitly choose *not* to have downloads available (see the greyed-out "download" link in most players).

MySpace has skimped on the technology, failing to pay for appropriate measures. They should be more open and properly inform the artists who use their sites. After all, they're the ones who bring people to the site.

Is Chernobyl behind academic slump in Sweden?

Nìall Tracey

@Graham @Dan...

You said:

"As far as the stats go in this case, "8 to 25 weeks" from the start of April makes those kids the youngest in their year group, and that's known to affect academic performance and other factors. The study doesn't say that they've made any attempt to correct for this."

Our survey said:

"Because there is substantial seasonality in school performance by birth month, we compare those also born August-December 1986 against those born August-December in adjacent years."

-- [http://www.columbia.edu/~le93/Chernobyl.pdf]

Taser creates electric shotgun

Nìall Tracey

Short it out? No thanks.

Q. What happens when you short out a Li-ion battery?

A. Ask someone who had a Sony battery in his laptop.

The cheapest calling plan of all: Friends and Family on the company phone

Nìall Tracey

Reasonable Costs Incurred

My bosses' "working away from home" policy says I can be refunded any reasonable costs incurred when working away from home.

At home, most of us now have calls to our nearest and dearest at no charge over line rental (BT's Friends and Family rate and equivalent). Calling from a hotel is then a "reasonable cost" to claim as I wouldn't have been charged it at home. So why not use the company mobile? It costs the company less than using a hotel phone.

So a blanket ban wouldn't work.

What about itemising?

Well, if I have to spend a day individually justifying calls in an expense report, it's going to cost the company more than just paying the bloody bill.

VAT liability? Well, the answer is for the government to waive it. Please. For efficiency and sanity's sake... please!

Irish kids' literacy hit by txts

Nìall Tracey

What's damaging my literacy....

I'm studying languages part-time, and as a result, my spelling and punctuation (in English) are getting worse and worse.


Because my brain's getting used to dealing with languages that are by nature phonetically spelt, and where punctuation is also clearly phonetical.

English orthography is, at present, atrocious. There have been various calls over centuries for a standardisation of English spelling on a phonetical model, but the misguided snobs in charge of English schools and universities resisted.

The mobile phone text has finally given the notion an environment in which to flourish, and in the next few generations English might actually become a half-decent language.

Till then, ah'm gonnae gang back tae speakin like ah did when ah wis wee and stick wi the Scots....

Cracked HD-DVD and Blu-Ray app keys revoked

Nìall Tracey

Re: Wast of Time

"Maybe I misunderstood something - but now that a technique has been developed, won't the new keys be cracked in a matter of hours after release?"

Read the article more closely. In the very first paragraph it says they are "pulling the encryption keys of PC applications associated with the attack."

The techniques to date have relied on weaknesses in the software used to play the discs on a PC. By declaring the compromised software unsafe and only giving new keys when the hole is plugged, the previous cracks just won't work.

But then again, law-abiding users will also be locked out of new releases until the hole is plugged and the update downloaded -- and even today there are people (*gasp*) without broadband.

Booze worse than Speed or Acid shocker

Nìall Tracey



"Ecstasy (and that *is* the spelling) won't kill anyone at all, for example."

Hyperpyrexia, vasoconstriction, rhabdomyolysis, water intoxication (due to interference with cell osmosis), hyponatremia, even plain old allergenic reactions... any of these can be fatal.

You are free to debate the relative safety, but stating that it "won't kill anyone" is wrong, and entirely reprehensible.

Boffins brew up ideal Bond e-fit

Nìall Tracey

I know who that is!

It's South Africa's favourite supporting actor -- Arnold Vosloo!


Scotland says nay to the big bad wolf

Nìall Tracey

Restoring Scotland's "natural landscape".

I agree wholeheartedly with restoring Scotland's woodlands. A drive from Perth to Loch Tay will scotch the myth that our country is near-treeless due to climate and soil. It's also worth noting that there are visible signs of new growth occurring in areas where sheep were taken off the hills during the foot-and-mouth epidemic.

It's interesting that the article notes, in regard to the risk to domestic sheep:

"80 per cent of sheep deaths in the Highlands of Spain are the result of wolves"

and that:

"rural human depopulation has encouraged a gradual spread of the species"

We've had a lot of rural human depopulation in Scotland too. It was called The Clearances, and people were turfed out to make way for... sheep.

So the farmers and landowners can shove it -- they've had total control of the Highlands for far too long, and it's time we stopped them squandering our natural heritage.

US fires up crowd-roasting microwave gun

Nìall Tracey

What does it do to your eyeballs?

If it's switched on pointing at your face, what does 50 degrees mean to the corneas? Do the waves penetrate to the retina?

And what about any other balls you may have on your person? The male reproductive organs are not surrounded by the thickest skin on the planet...

Clarins unveils anti-aging satellite defender

Nìall Tracey

Another electromagnetic blocking product!


And this one copes with wave-particle duality, too!

Will robots ever become just like humans?

Nìall Tracey

"Only technical problems"...?!?

"Other than this, theoretically, robots could look, act, think, and feel like humans in every way. There are only technical problems that need to be overcome in achieving this."

This is a rather strong claim. If there are "only technical problems... to be overcome" then it follows that we must already know all the theory and rules behind human behaviour, thought and emotion. As far as I'm aware, we don't -- and we don't know how long it will take to work them out (if the problem is not intractable).

The technical problems facing roboticists and the AI community are no small matter but they pale into insignificance when placed beside questions on the nature of conciousness. The erroneous belief that AI is a "technical problem" seems to be making a lot of money for some pretty unimaginative technical researchers. Yes, Honda's ASIMO is a pretty impressive piece of kit, but a walking robot is no more intelligent than a wheeled one, and actually a lot less mobile.

iKey Plus portable USB recorder

Nìall Tracey

Who's its target?

I'm struggling to see any real point to this device.

First up -- why does it include MP3 encoding? No-one serious about their music will take their master recording in MP3 format. After all, you would have to uncompress and recompress to do even the simplest of corrections or adjustments. Would anyone who would use this feature find any benefit over using an MP3 player's record function? I'm not convinced.

I don't think this is really for bands, we have the problem of "house mix" vs "record mix". Your average gigging band normally has most of its performance volume coming directly from the guitar and bass amps and the drum kit, with the PA carrying the full volume of the vocals with only some "reinforcement" of the instruments. This means that you cannot record from the house mix -- the balance is biased to the vocals. To run two mixes from the inputs requires two mixing desks, naturally, so why not buy/hire a desk with built-in recording facilities -- multitracking even?

The other option is to take the so-called "room mix" -- just plug in a mic and hear what the audience hears. But the quality on that is generally so poor that, again, you may as well just record directly on your MP3 player.

This device is so close to useful: what musicians need now is a dedicated multitrack recorder. One with the bare minimum of knobs, bells and whistles that just saves the raw data and lets us mix down on a PC with the sort of software most of us use anyway.

There are already plenty of ways of recording two tracks -- we don't need this new one.